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strengthen you with all might by his Spirit in your inner man;" will “work in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure;” and enable you to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.'
They that sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption ; they that sow to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Let us make continual progress in christian virtue. Every act of sin has a tendency to misery. Every effort to subdue corruption, and to live to the will of God, is a seed which, by God's grace, will bring forth fruit to everlasting life. By patient continuance in well doing, let us seek for glory, honour, and immortality; for to such God will assuredly recompense eternal life: but to those that are disobedient, and do not obey the truth,“ indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.” “On the wicked he will rain fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.'
THE GLORY OF GOD IN CONCEALING.
Proverbs xxv. 2.—It is the glory of God to conceal a thing.t
[PREACHED AT CAMBRIDGE, SEPTEMBER, 1826.]
It is difficult to say whether the glory of God appears more in what he displays, or in what he
* Rom. i. 7-9; Ps. xi. 6. † From the Notes of Joshua Wilson, Esq.
conceals, of his operations and designs. Were he to conceal every thing from our view, it would be impossible that any glory could result to him from the sentiments and actions of his creatures. From entire ignorance nothing could arise, no medium of intercourse could be established between the creature and the Creator. In the total absence of the knowledge of God, religion must be totally excluded and unknown. But it is by a partial communication of himself, which the Divine Being might, if he pleased, in various degrees extend and increase beyond the present measure, that he has in the highest degree consulted his honour and manifested his wisdom. If there were no light, we should sink into a state of irreligious doubt and despair ; if there were no darkness, we should be in danger of losing that reverential sense of his infinite majesty so essential to religion, and of impiously supposing that the Almighty is such an one as ourselves. But a temperature of mingled light and obscurity, a combination of discovery and concealment, is calculated to produce the most suitable impressions of the divine excellence on the minds of fallen creatures. When God was pleased to favour his ancient people with a supernatural display of his presence, by a visible symbol, during their journey through the wilderness, it wore this twofold aspect: it was a pillar of cloud and of fire, dark in the daytime and luminous in the night; and when he conducted them through the Red Sea, he turned the bright side of the cloud towards the camp
Israel, and the gloomy side towards the Egyptians by whom they were pursued.*
When he descended on Mount Sinai, the token of his presence was a mass of thick and dark clouds, penetrated at intervals by flashes of lightning. On the third day, in the morning, we are informed, there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount; and, it is added, “ the mount was altogether in a smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace.” When Solomon had finished his temple, the manifestation which the Deity made of himself, in taking possession of it and consecrating it to his service, was of the same character. No sooner had the priests gone out of the holy place, than the cloud filled the house of the Lord; and “ the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” The first indication of the divine presence was the overspreading of thick darkness, which afterwards subsided, and unfolded itself gradually, till it terminated in an insufferable splendour. Upon observing this, Solomon, at the commencement of his celebrated prayer, used these words: “ The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” If God dwells in light inaccessible, he equally makes darkness his dwelling-place,—"his pavilion dark waters and thick clouds of the sky.” “Clouds and darkness,"
Exod. xiv. 19, 20.
† i Kings viii. 12.
says David, “are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” In this view of the character and dispensations of the Almighty, the Psalmist probably alludes to those sensible appearances of his presence which are recorded in his ancient oracles.
At our Saviour's transfiguration, the three disciples retained their composure until the cloud appeared; for they knew that to be the symbol of the immediate presence of the Deity. They feared,” we are told, “ when they entered into the cloud ;” and it was thence the voice proceeded, saying, “ This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” These representations are in perfect harmony with the doctrine of the passage under our present consideration, in which the wisest of men, speaking by inspiration, informs us that “it is the glory of God to conceal a thing." He does it with a design to promote his glory, being by necessity his own ultimate and final end.
There are two observations naturally suggested by these words :
I. The Divine Being is accustomed to conceal much.
II. In this he acts in a manner worthy of himself, and suited to display his glory.
I. We shall specify some of the instances in which God conceals things.
1. In relation to his own nature and manner of existence.
His essence is altogether hidden from the most profound investigation, the most laborious research, the most subtile penetration, of his creatures. With respect to this, it may be said, “Who by searching can find out God; who can find out the Almighty to perfection ?” We know that he possesses certain attributes, (which we distinguish by different names drawn from analogous excellencies among men,) exclusive of all limit or imperfection found in human nature. We ascribe to him every idea of virtue and spiritual beauty, exalted to infinite perfection. But how the Divine Being himself exists in an essential and eternal nature of his own, without beginning as well as without end, how he can be present at the same moment in every point of illimitable space, without excluding any one of his creatures from the room it occupies,how, unseen, unfelt by all, he can maintain a pervading and intimate acquaintance and contact with all parts and portions of the universe,-how he can be at once all
all presence, all energy, yet interfere with none of the perceptions and actions of his creatures,—this is what equally baffles the mightiest and the meanest intellect; this is the great mystery of the universe, which is at once the most certain and the most incomprehensible of all things;-a truth at once enveloped in a flood of light and an abyss of darkness! Inexplicable itself, it explains all besides : it casts a clearness on every question, accounts for every phenomenon, solves every problem, illuminates every depth, and renders the whole mystery of existence as perfectly simple as it is otherwise perfectly unintelligible, while itself alone remains in impenetrable obscurity!